Aug 2, 2022 - Business

Arkansas organizations turn brainstorms into business

Illustration of a lightbulb with a brain-shaped filament

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

August means it's back-to-school time. Not just for kids, but for entrepreneurs looking to step up their game, too.

What's happening: Both Heartland Forward and Cureate are accepting applications for their fall cohorts of 10 entrepreneurs — or hopeful business builders — each.

Why it matters: Encouraging, mentoring and developing entrepreneurs are important steps to build a successful entrepreneurial network in Northwest Arkansas.

Heartland Forward

Details: This program is an idea accelerator, meaning you can, but don't have to, own a business. Anyone with a creative idea for solving a problem in NWA can apply (for instance, this guy who's converting standard bicycles to electric bikes).

  • Builders + Backers, a venture capital and accelerator firm, runs the program with Heartland Forward.
  • Participants receive a $5,000 "pebble" grant to use for experimentation.
  • They learn how to put abstractions into action, test them and communicate their value. They're also connected to other participant "builders."
  • The Walton Family Foundation supports this cohort.

Deadline: Applications are accepted through Aug. 15, and the program begins Sept. 22, running roughly 90 days.


Details: Business consulting company, Cureate, is largely focused on helping food and beverage entrepreneurs earn more money.

  • Cohort participants can take Cureate Courses and get two business consultations.
  • Applicants must be located in Arkansas or adjacent counties in Missouri or Oklahoma, but looking to serve the NWA market.
  • At the end of the program, participants pitch their ideas for a chance to win $5,000.
  • Forge, Inc. of Huntsville backs the cohort.

Deadline: Applications are accepted through Sept. 6. The program begins Sept. 27 and lasts 10 weeks.

Of note: CEO Kim Bryden relocated Cureate to NWA from Washington, D.C., as part of the Life Works Here program.

What's next: Cureate plans to host two more 10-person cohorts during the 2022-2023 school year.


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